Adams Avenue set to rock with fairer than fair musical fare this weekend
This weekend’s 36th annual Adams Avenue Street Fair will feature at least one guitar virtuoso (Larry Mitchell), two of San Diego’s most durable and dynamic blues artists (Len Raney and Bill Magee) and dozens of rising young area musicians. Near the top of the bill at the free, all-ages music festival are Los Angeles blues-soul belter Janiva Magness and Riverside blues harmonica ace Rod Piazza.
But the headliners of this two-day, 80-act lineup also include a pair of bands that - had they been booked back then - could have played at the very first Adams Avenue Street Fair in 1981.
So welcome back, please, The Dinettes and Gary Wilson & The Blind Dates.
Both became mainstays of San Diego’s vibrant punk- and indie-rock scenes in the late 1970s. Their presence at this year’s Adams Avenue Street Fair lends a certain air of local music history to an event that has long showcased the region’s top talents.
Without further ado, here - in chronological order - are some top musical choices for this weekend’s festival. The list could easily have been twice as long for the street fair, whose performers were booked by Casbah honcho Tim Mays, Lestat’s talent buyer Louis Brazier and former 4th&B talent buyer Steve Kader.
Gary Wilson & The Blind Dates
5:30 p.m. Saturday, Casbah Rock Stage
Outlier-rock cult hero Wilson moved to San Diego from New York in 1978. Wrapped in tape and tossing copious amounts of flour on stage, he played some of the same venues here as The Dinettes. A proud space oddity, Wilson’s singular 1977 debut album earned praise from Roots drummer Questlove and Beck - whose hit song, “Where It’s At,” includes a fond shout-out to Wilson. The subject of the 2005 film documentary “You Think You Really Know Me: The Gary Wilson Story,” Wilson spent years here working late-night shifts at “adult entertainment” emporiums before being discovered by a new generation of fans.
8 p.m. Saturday, Lestat’s Stage
This veteran guitarist has worked with such diverse artists as Tracy Chapman, Latin music star Miguel Bosé, Joy Harjo, Billy Squier, former Cars’ leader Ric Ocasek and former Youngbloods’ leader Jesse Collin Young. But Mitchell shines brightest as a band leader who now has seven solo albums to his credit and is equally adept playing rock, blues, jazz and shimmering folk-pop.
8:45 p.m. Saturday, Casbah Rock Stage
San Diego’s first all-woman punk-rock band made a sizable impact here in 1979 and 1980, before adding a token male member or two in 1981 and fizzling out. The Dinettes’ uproarious original lineup reunited in July - for the first time in 37 years - for the “Sounds Like San Diego VIII” concert at the Museum of Making Music. Lead singer Doriot Lair and keyboardist Sue Delguidice will lead a revamped lineup this weekend.
Sarah Rogo Blues Band
Noon, Sunday, Hawley Blues Stage
A relative newcomer to San Diego, this 25-year-old New England transplant lives in Encinitas. Rogo’s collaborators have included blues-rock guitar star Joe Bonamassa and “The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien” band leader Jimmy Vivino. Her pleasant vocals are often eclipsed by her tart bottleneck playing on her vintage National Resonator Guitar. Rogo’s new album, “Live at Lestat’s West,” was released last Friday.
36th annual Adams Avenue Street Fair
When: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday
Where: On Adams Avenue in Normal Heights from 32nd to 35th streets
Admission: Free and open to all-ages, except the 21-and-up beer gardens and craft beer tasting from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday. The tasting, at the corner of Felton Street and Adams Avenue, costs $20 in advance and $25 on Saturday.
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